It was one of those days that a person will sit back in their rocking chair late in life and tell the tale of a glorious Texas day.
Once upon a time, when I lived in the cornfields of Ohio a friend (JD) introduced me to cowboy poetry and Texas swing. At that point in my life, I sorta figured I would spend the rest of my life living in Ohio. I hadn’t made a visit to Texas yet, and fallen in love with the state. It was a new art form to me, and I can remember having to order a CD from Amazon. I don’t remember the name of the CD, but I do remember that one of the artists was Don Edwards. There were songs on the CD that made me giggle, and songs that made me sad. It was so far outside of anything that I had ever heard, I fell in love.
I never in my life back in those days would have imagined the life that I lead now. Every year there is a gathering at my happiest place on earth, the Red Steagall Festival. The day is packed full of Texas swing music, cowboys and cowboy poets. I’ve been a few times, for a part of the day, in the rain and the blistering heat. Last year as I dodged the raindrops I had such a great day, savoring the poems and the songs being performed live. I thought it was the best day ever….until yesterday.
I woke up to weather in the 80’s, nothing but big Texas blue sky and sunshine. I packed a bag and was ready for my adventure to Cowtown. My first stop was to pick up my ticket at the will call window. While standing in line someone behind me asked me if the ticket was just for the trade show, no I explained you get to see the really good stuff like the poets and to hear the swing music.
I wandered through the vendor building admiring the spurs, the handmade saddles and the artwork. The entire building smelled of both leather and horses. It just set the mood and the tone for the day. There were cowboys everywhere, not the fake kind that you see at the honky tonk or the dance halls. Their boots had a bit of a wear to them, and there were quite a few that were sporting spurs, tight jeans and giant belt buckles…oh my.
I made my way into the music tent and settled in to listen to the performers for the afternoon. I enjoyed the music of Jean Prescott, Dan Roberts and my favorite the Quebe Sisters. A family of four sat down next to me. They were from Oklahoma, and lived on a ranch. I got the biggest chuckle at the dad of the group sitting next to me and belting out all of the tunes along with Dan Roberts, priceless.
After the music I decided to head to the Star Cafe for my favorite blue cheese bacon burger and their homemade fries. There was a line out the door but I was able to get a table pretty quickly. I took in the people around me, their dress as varied as the places that they were from. The place was filled with tourists, cowboys and people dressed in period costume. I felt recharged and made my way to the cowboy poetry performances.
Cowboy poetry has always amazed me. One by one, the performers stand up and recite a very long and detailed poem. Not just one poem, but as many as 10 poems. Some of the poems make you laugh hysterically, some of the poems make you all teary eyed. They always tug at your emotions. My favorite poet of the day was Yvonne Hollenbeck. It was my first time seeing a female cowboy poet, and after spending a great deal of time living on a farm, and being a farmer’s wife I could identify with some of her poems.
The arena for the cowboy poetry is the arena that is used to sell livestock. The seats are worn, and there’s no air conditioning. It is definitely a step back in time. I stayed to watch the first half of Red Steagall performing, it all seemed pretty similar to the performance from last year. I was a woman on a mission I had a place to be.
At 5:30, Don Edwards was to perform in the musical tent. Don Edwards, the guy that I had listened to on a CD years and miles and a lifetime ago in Ohio. He had me at the first yodel as he sang songs that were familiar to me as well as songs that I had never heard. I fought back the tears several time during his singing. He sang a song called Cowhand.com that left me in stitches, but when he ended the show with This Land is Your Land I lost it. I felt honored to be a part of a capacity audience to hear the thoughts and the music of Don Edwards.
By this point in the day, I needed a rest. I headed to my hotel, about 10 minutes away and rested for an hour, hit the shower and headed back to cowtown for part 2 of my adventure. I went back to the music tent, they were having a swing dance from 9 to 1. I loved the music, and there were songs in the set that had to have had my guardian angels dancing. The one that got to me the most was Heartaches by the Number, wow, I can remember my mom playing that song when I was a kid. I know she was loving that song, because I sure was. The steps were a bit different in swing dancing, but I did see a bit of east coast swing, and a combination of different sorts of steps. I would venture to guess that when the people were dancing in airplane hangars, these were the dances the folks in the country were dancing in their barns.
It was time to head to Billy Bobs, I had a front row seat to see Ronnie Dunn. It’s funny, this was a concert that I thought I was going to miss, I thought I was going to be out of town. When I realized I was going to be home, and in Fort Worth for the Red Steagall Festival, it seemed a perfect combination. (That’s why I decided to spend the night at the hotel, no driving back in the middle of the night home.) A typical Saturday night at Billy Bobs the place was packed with people. I bought an adult beverage and a water and found my way to my seat.
Wow, my seat was very close to the stage. Billy Bobs is a great place to see a concert, especially with seats so close to the stage. It’s nothing like those concerts I used to see in big venues and arenas. You actually make eye contact with the performers. I was ready for this show to begin….yet, there was some sort of delay/stalling happening–perhaps because there was a World Series Game happening, and Mr. Dunn was singing the national anthem?
I enjoyed every single minute of this show. I have always liked Brooks and Dunn, but I also fell in love with Ronnie Dunn’s solo album. The show was a nice mixture of both the old and the new. There were lots of opportunities to sing along and I was dancing in my seat big time!
One of my guardian angels was a dear friend of mine, Maria, who died way too young. I believe that she along with my mom keep an eye on me. When I hear the song, My Maria I always feel that she is near me. If I am out dancing and that song comes on, I tend to grab the closest man and drag him out on the dance floor, for me it’s a way to celebrate life and her memory. I guess it never occurred to me that I would hear this song at the Ronnie Dunn concert. But, the song was there, towards the end of the night and I had another I can’t hold back the tears moment.
I am not sure I can put into words all of the emotions that I felt yesterday. I found myself teary eyed quite a bit, I laughed quite a bit and I just enjoyed the day, enjoyed my life. That my friends is why we are here, to live each and every day to the fullest. There are times that even I lose sight of that fact.
It was also a reminder that life is constantly evolving and changing. I would have never EVER thought I would get to see Don Edwards perform, yet the planets aligned and I had a very special moment, and also a special memory of JD and being introduced to this art form.
My life is filled with abundance. I am grateful for these out of the blue wonderful days that make me feel alive, and so grateful for the life that I have. Yee Haw!
Nothing is impossible my friends…when you believe.